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James 5: 1 Motheaten Garments

Posted by Ez1 Realty on September 10, 2008

KJV James 5: 1.  Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. 2.  Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. 3.

moth eaten garments


Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

We first need to take a look at the physical aspects of the text we are studying.  We see that “rich men” will “weep and howl for the miseries” or unfortunate circumstances that will happen to them.  We can see that there should be a direct correlation between corrupt riches and garments that are being eaten by moths.  There should also be a common link between the moth eaten garments and the gold and silver that is cankered.  If we look up the word cankered in a dictionary we find that cankered means an ulceration of the mouth and lips.  It is a type of disease.  We can now begin to locate Biblical text with the aid of a Concordance or computer program that contains the key words.  The key words in James 5:1-3 are garment, motheaten or moth, gold, silver and cankered.


KJV Isaiah 61:3.  To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

KJV Isaiah 61:10.  I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

KJV Job 29:14.  I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.

Here in Isaiah 61 we are given two phrases associated with righteousness.  They are, “the oil of joy” and “the garment of praise”.  In verse 10 Isaiah makes it clear that a garment is a spiritual word for salvation and God will cover us “with the robe of righteousness”.   Job further confirms this by saying he is clothed with a robe of righteousness.

KJV Revelation 3:5.  He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

In the New Testament we are told that when we are, “clothed in white raiment”, our names will not be blotted out from the book of life.   Checking the Concordance you will find that the same word translated as raiment in Revelation 3:5 is translated as garment in Matthew 9:16.  It is important to take precautions so that words are not being arbitrarily substituted at random.

From the above text we can see that a garment is a spiritual word for salvation or righteousness.  We are all familiar with the fact that Jesus clothes us with His righteousness and that it is Jesus that stands in our place at the judgment.  It is sad that too many Christians have no idea how to find these text in the Bible or have the ability to show this plain and simple truth to others directly from the scriptures.


The concordance tells us that moth in the Hebrew is Strong word number 6211 which is derived from number 6244 which means, “to be consumed”.
KJV Matthew 6:20
20.  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

KJV Luke 12:33
33.  Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.

Matthew and Luke tell us that the moth is used as symbol of something that corrupts.  If we look up the definition of corrupt in a dictionary we will find that is means, “immorality, depraved and dishonest”.


KJV Psalms 19:9-10
9.  The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10.  More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

KJV Psalms 119:72
72.  The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.

KJV Psalms 119:127
127.  Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.

The key word gold is a spiritual word for God’s law and commandments.  Gold is one of the most precious substances in the world.  For years countries based their entire currency system in gold and silver reserves.  If you have ever seen the writing on old United State currency you would have seen that it said, “this note is redeemable for lawful money”, meaning gold or silver.  Remember the silver certificates the United States used to distribute?  Gold has always been esteemed for it’s value that is thought to never fade.  Even today people invest in gold when all other investments seem to be failing.  That is why God has chosen gold to represent His law.  “So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.  And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.  I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.  And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.  My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.”  Psalms 119:44-48

We have here two well known adages, “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether, more to be desired are they than gold”, and, “I love thy commandments above gold”.  Most Christians readily recognize these text and they are easily understood.  These text can easily teach a lesson on their own without further explanation.  When these text are examined with a desire to obtain a deeper understanding of the scriptures we see that these text are comparing gold, a physical item to the judgments and law of God, a spiritual principle.  This spiritual principle may be examined further by comparing other text in the Bible containing the word gold.  James 5:3 is telling us that the physical gold these rich people have has holes in it.  When we substitute the spiritual word of God’s law for the physical word gold we understand that these rich people are trying to put holes in the law of God.


KJV Proverbs 16:16.  How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!

KJV Psalms 12:6.  The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

KJV Psalms 119:72.  The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.

The above text tells us that understanding is more valuable than silver.  We need to look further to know what we are supposed to understand.  The Psalms tells us that the law of God and the words of God are spiritually represented by silver.


KJV Joel 1:3.  Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. 4.  That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten. 5.  Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.

KJV Nahum 3:15.  There shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up like the cankerworm: make thyself many as the cankerworm, make thyself many as the locusts. 16.  Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth, and flieth away.

KJV Joel 2:25
25.  And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.

The above text tells us that the cankerworm is part of a plague, eating the food that people depend upon for survival.  The Hebrew dictionary tells us that the cankerworm is the larvae of a locust and defines the cankerworm as “from an unused root meaning to lick up; a devourer; specifically, the young locust:”  The word canker is defined as, “to rust down, i.e. Corrode:”  The cankerworm is a spiritual representation of a plague, trial or to spoil or corrode something such as rust.  Since gold does not tarnish or rust we know that this text must have a spiritual meaning.

Now that we have interpreted all of the key words we can now make a chart.

GARMENT = salvation or righteousness
MOTHEATEN  or MOTH = corrupt
GOLD = God’s law and commandments
SILVER = the law of God and the words of God
CANKERED or CANKERWORM = trial or to spoil or corrode something such as rust

KJV James 5: 1.  Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. 2.  Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. 3.  Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

Rich men will moan and cry because of the miseries that will come upon them.   Their riches are corrupt and their righteousness (garments) are corrupt (motheaten).   God’s law and word is corroded.  This shall be a witness against them and shall eat their flesh as if it were fire.  They have heaped their treasures together for the last days.  The truth is that too many people in this world will never have enough money to make them feel secure.   Just a few years ago there were no billionaires in this world.  Now there are over two hundred making more than a billion dollars in a year.  Where will it all stop?  The world has become one big game of monopoly where the object of the game is to obtain all of the money, from everyone.

A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.  For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the Lord upholdeth the righteous.  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.  And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?  Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.  He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.  The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him:  Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:  Psalms 37:16-17, 1 Timothy 6:9, Psalms 73:11-12, Proverbs 28:22, Revelation 3:17

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.  And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.  He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.  , Matthew 19:23-24, Matthew 13:22

They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches;  None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:  Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased;  For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.  Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.  There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.  He that trusteth in his riches shall fall; but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.  The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.  Psalms 49:6-7, Psalms 49:16-17, Psalms 39:6, Proverbs 13:7, Proverbs 11:28, Samuel 2:7

Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandment  His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed.  Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever.  Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes.  With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.  I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.  I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.  I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.  The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;  O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!  For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.  By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.  By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.  Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.  My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.  Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.  God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.  And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.  Psalms 112:1-3, Psalms 119:12-16, Ephesians 1:18, Ephesians 1:7, Romans 11:33, 2 Corinthians 8:9, Proverbs 8:15-19, Proverbs 11:4, Ephesians 2:4, Isaiah 45:3

KJV Matthew 9:16
16.  No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.

If we look at the words cloth and garment in the concordance we find they have very different meanings.  Cloth means, “a “rag,” i.e. piece of cloth:”  While garment means, “neuter of a presumed derivative of ennumi (to put on); a dress (inner or outer):”  The word used for new in this text actually means, “from GSN0001 (as a negative particle) and the same as GSN1102; properly, unfulled, i.e. (by implication) new (cloth):”, which gives us the clue that this text has a spiritual meaning.

When identifying the key words we immediately see a comparison of a new cloth and an old garment that we need to study.

When we look at the physical we see that if we put a new piece of cloth on an old piece of clothing it will rip and look even worse.  This may be true if we look at the fact that a new piece of cloth may not be shrunk like an old piece.  This may cause a worse tear than the original.  It may not be a common practice to buy a new piece of material to put on an old jacket.  Unless you find a perfect match and you are very good at sewing the defect will still be seen.  It may be easier to buy a new jacket or enough material to make a new garment.  More clues that this text has a clear spiritual meaning.

KJV Exodus 35:19
19.  The cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest’s office.

KJV Exodus 39:41
41.  The cloths of service to do service in the holy place, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and his sons’ garments, to minister in the priest’s office.

KJV Leviticus 16:32
32.  And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest’s office in his father’s stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments:

Although the words used in Matthew 9:16 are quite different in meaning, the Old Testament shows us that the words cloth, clothes and garment can be interchangeable.  If we can prove this using nothing but the Bible we can also apply this rule to other text, as long as it does no harm and agrees with the original text and follows the theme of the Bible.

The question to ask now is, “what is the difference between a new cloth and a old garment or a new and old garment?”

KJV Zechariah 3:3-5
3.  Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. 4.  And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. 5.  And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by.

In this text there is a vision that shows Joshua clothed in filthy garments.  These filthy garments are taken off of him and he is given a change of clothes.  When the old garments are taken off him his iniquity is also removed.  The old garments represent sin.  The new garments represent salvation.

KJV Zechariah 35:2
2.  Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:

Jacob uses garments as a metaphor to represent a change in life style or belief.  The old garments that they are wearing represent their present state, worshipping other gods.  The new clothes represent putting the old gods away and worshipping the true God.

KJV Revelation 3:18
18.  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

The Bible shows us that white represents Heaven.  “And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.” KJV Revelation 4:4  When we read Revelation 3:18 we know we would be buying new garments, not old.  These new white garments represent an investment in Heaven.

To chart out the key words:

CLOTH = clothes and garment
NEW GARMENT = salvation
OLD GARMENT = sin, old life style

KJV Matthew 9:16
16.  No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.

We can paraphrase Matthew 9:16 as follows.

No man puts salvation on (new piece of cloth) an old life style (old garment) because the new salvation (piece of cloth) used to improve the life style (old garment) will actually show the defects in his life (make the tear worse).


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